Fellowship 2005-06 Project:
By Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, LL.B., MA, Ph.D
Lecturer in CyberLaw, University of Leeds, United Kingdom. Director, Cyber-Rights & Cyber-Liberties (UK), and a 2003-04 Fellow of the International Policy and Information Policy Fellowship programmes of the Open Society Institute.
You can find all the information related to my 2003-04 IPF Fellowship Project entitled Civil Society Participation to the policy making process of the Turkish Government in relation to the development of an Information Society in Turkey here.
Dr. Yaman Akdeniz's Curriculum Vitae is accessible here
Mail Correspondence Address:
School of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Leeds,
Leeds LS2 9JT.
In 2003-04, I conducted an Open Society Institute (“OSI”) International Policy Fellowship and Information Policy programmes supported project entitled Civil Society Participation to the Policy Making Process of the Turkish Government in relation to the Development of an Information Society in Turkey. The project examined and analysed the developments and models and modes of governance in Turkey. It was designed to develop a foundation for the building of a civil society movement working in the field of law and policy issues involving e-democracy, human rights and the Internet in Turkey.
As part of the IPF fellowship, I also became involved in the implementation of Turkey’s Right to Information Act. This law was enacted in October 2003 and came into force in April 2004. The law aims to provide a right to information to all citizens according to the principles of equality, impartiality and openness that are the necessities of a democratic and transparent government. For the purposes of monitoring the implementation and application of the Right to Information Act, I set up the www.bilgiedinmehakki.org website in October 2003 and began efforts to monitor the implementation of the Act. I have subsequently published two substantial reports. How do you contact the Turkish Freedom of Information Council? (August 2004), which provides a guide for users on the appeals mechanisms available under the law and how to contact the Freedom of Information Council (this information was not provided by the Council or any government agency at the time this report was published); and The implementation and application of the Right to Information Act by the Turkish Ministries (September 2004, updated November 2004) which reviews the both positive and negative experiences of the ministries and the surprisingly successful use of information technology and web sites to implementation of the law, which could make it a model for many nations to follow. However, serious problems associated with the application of the Law have been documented in this research study and four Ministries that failed to respond cast a dark shadow on some of the good work done in terms of implementation and application by other Ministries.
These reports, which were the first and the only reports analysing the implementation of the 2003 Law were widely covered in the media and pressured the Ministries to revise and update their implementation policies. The short history, and the implementation and application of the Turkish Right to Information Law by the 15 Ministries provided a complex picture.
In my 2003-04 IPF Fellowship report, I wrote that “although the enactment of the Right to Information Act is a very important first step towards openness, transparency, and democratisation in Turkey, it remains to be seen how transparent the government will be in Turkey”. If the new law is applied in an arbitrary way by the Ministries, there will be serious problems in terms of its successful implementation and application. As part of the IPF Continuing Fellowship programme, I would like to build upon the work I conducted through www.bilgiedinmehakki.org and concentrate further on the application and implementation of the Right to Information Act 2003 in Turkey. This would be an expansion of policy research related to my IPF fellowship project, and gels well with the open society principles of openness, transparency and accountability.
The following would be done as part of the IPF Continuing Fellowship programme project:
The following would be achieved having conducted the above research and policy work:
The project findings will be beneficial to the OSI Justice Initiative Freedom of Information Program: The promotion of access to information is a key element of developing open societies. The successes and shortfalls of the implementation of the Turkish Right to Information Act can provide a useful model for other countries in the region. The Continuing Fellowship project findings and the reports would be useful to the Freedom of Information Program which continues to promote the adoption and implementation of laws to enable exercise of the right to government-held information, as well as to information of public interest held by private bodies. This program supports a number of projects related to FOI adoption and FOI implementation but so far Turkey has not been part of its projects.
The project findings can also be beneficial to the OSI Information Program: Although the findings of my original IPF fellowship project were directly related to the work of the Information Program, the proposed Continuing Fellowship project would also to some extent be related to the work of the Information Program. The recently launched E-Transformation Turkey project will be analysed so far as it relates to the implementation of the Right to Information Act. Web based technologies and ICT tools are used as part of the implementation of this legislation and therefore the proposed study will assess the implementation and use of ICT tools as well as the e-transformation of the Turkish government.
project findings will also be beneficial to the work of the current
IPF fellows for the following reasons: As mentioned above the promotion
of access to information is a key element of developing open societies.
Access to government records and information is crucial to any researcher,
academic, activist, and for that matter IPF fellow working in any
policy field. Access facilitates public knowledge and discussion.
It provides an important guard against abuses, mismanagement and corruption.
“It can also be beneficial to governments themselves – openness and
transparency in the decision making process can assist in developing
citizen trust in government actions and maintaining a civil and democratic
society.” I believe there needs to be more awareness about freedom
of information laws and their application (e.g. how to make a request
for information) in terms of conducting IPF policy research projects
and I believe the proposed study would help to raise such awareness.
Significant Publications During the original IPF Fellowship Period
Turkish Time interview (February 2004) about the Internet Governance report.
Internet Governance: Towards the modernization of policy making process in Turkey, Turkish Informatics Society, Istanbul: Papatya Yayincilik, September 2003, ISBN 975-6797-44-4 (A separate version in Turkish is also available, please contact).
Internet Governance, and Freedom in Turkey, in Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (“OSCE”) Representative on Freedom of the Media eds, Spreading the Word on the Internet: 16 answers to 4 questions, Reflections on Freedom of the Media and the Internet, pp 29-43, Vienna, 2003.
Internet Governance and Freedom in Turkey, paper presented at the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe Conference on Freedom of the Media and Internet and, 13-14 June, 2003, Amsterdam, Netherlands. (invited speaker)
Freedom of Information in Turkey